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With musical note-playing stairs, a giant piggy bank suspended in the air, a life-size pirate ship and an IMAX theater, Raleigh’s Marbles Kids Museum is the destination for fun in the Triangle. Each year, hundreds of thousands of guests visit the museum for its educational exhibits; to attend camps, parties and special events; or to catch movies. To better serve its diverse array of audiences, Marbles needed to overhaul its website and messaging to begin to communicate the value of child-directed play.

Prior to joining Marbles as the director of marketing, Sarah Brown had collaborated with Raleigh’s premier web development and branding agency, Rivers Agency, for more than a decade on web development and branding projects for the Morehead Planetarium and the NC Science Festival. Sarah Brown invited Rivers Agency to pitch for the project, and our agency’s proposed approach, technical expertise with Tessitura TNEW, creativity and enthusiasm for the project won over the Marbles leadership team.

Marbles’ mission is to spark imagination, discovery and learning through play. As a nonprofit, it plays an important role in the community—affording children of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to problem solve, think creatively and become more well-rounded adults. Its current website didn’t tell the full story of Marbles—including its educational and scientific focus areas—nor did it meet their diverse set of users’ needs.

With separate websites for Marbles Kids Museum, Marbles IMAX and no e-commerce for its Corner Store, Marbles is partnering with Rivers to create a custom web solution. Requirements for the new site include advanced functionality, like ticketing, e-commerce for the store and memberships, a reservation system for rental spaces, event calendars and much more.

To kick off the engagement, Rivers undertook a comprehensive website discovery process that included auditing the current site and analyzing user behavior and traffic data. Next, Rivers sat down with a dozen different teams at Marbles to understand each team’s goals and who their core audiences are. Through these interviews, pain points surfaced, and content and functional needs for the new site were identified.

From this research, Rivers crafted the key personas of each “type of website user” and outlined the top information they need to find on the site. As the team strategized on the site’s new organization and user experience, it was apparent it would need to be a mobile-first design to accommodate the majority of users who accessed the site from their phones. Usually, families on the go.

Our Rivers Agency team is currently hard at work, creating a new site architecture that brings all of the Marbles entities under one robust website that’s delightful for users to navigate and easy for team Marbles members to maintain and update. With updated messaging that reflects Marbles’ mission and “play-losophy,” the new site will better tell the story and convey the nonprofit’s unique role in the community.

Rivers Agency is the premier branding, advertising, web design and development firm for Raleigh, NC, Chapel Hill, NC, Durham, NC and Carrboro, NC and is honored to support Marbles Kids Museum in its mission to help kids learn and grow.

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